Late in 2009, I spent a few days in New York City. I returned from that vacation with a number of interesting souvenirs -- from sexy action figures to sexy (okay, mainly just pretty goddamned entertaining) stories from my night at a fetish club in the Village -- but also an idea. Well, many ideas. I have lots of ideas. But only one is the focus of this article.
See, during my stay in NYC, I ended up at Bamboo 52 -- primarily because a friend had given me a Restaurant.com gift certificate, as I doubt I would have sought the place out otherwise... or persisted in my efforts to find it, as I had a bit of trouble locating the place. However, having been there, I can definitely say that I'd look the place up again if I were in the Big Apple with a hankering for sushi -- gift certificate or not -- and I'd likewise recommend it to you if you find yourself in that situation. But while the sushi was excellent, and while the restaurant had a request-taking DJ that night (I admit to requesting several Lady Gaga numbers), neither of those was the most intriguing thing about my experience that night. You see, at Bamboo 52, I was first introduced to the wonder that is the wasabitini.
If the mere idea of a drink mixed with wasabi doesn't blow your mind, clearly you're less excitable than I am when it comes to unusual combinations of edibles and imbibables. A wasabi martini?! I'm not even a huge fan of martinis, or rather drinks that come in prissy martini glasses (that's like what, gone in a gulp? give me something hard in a fat tumbler, thanks), but the idea of a wasabi cocktail was too compelling for me to pass up. Four or five of the things later -- and they really supplemented the sushi quite well -- I was more than just in love with the drink. I was determined to recreate it.
So I questioned my server as to the contents of the drink (whereupon he not only told me the restaurant's recipe, but also his personal recipe at home), sloppily scrawled his report on a paper napkin, and, several days after returning home, purchased some wasabi-ko powder with intent to mix up my own version of the drink. When my first attempt produced less-than-desirable results, I adjusted my recipe and tried again. I continued to experiment with the drink, tweaking my recipe and sometimes replacing it using various recipes I encountered on the Internet. When my wasabi-ko powder ran dry, I tried a different brand -- Kaneku -- and noticed a definite and immediate improvement. (Whether this is because "wasabi-ko" is actually different from "wasabi" or whether Kaneku is simply better than the other brand, I cannot say. If you can, please feel free to enlighten us!) Eventually, I hit on what I thought was as close as I would get to the wonder I had tasted months before at Bamboo 52, though I couldn't help feeling that my concoction remained somewhat lacking.
It was not until my birthday last year that I perfected my recipe, and I had not consciously been intending to do so. As birthdays are festive occasions, and as I generally like to sample some novel and interesting drink to commemorate these days, I decided that Pinnacle Cotton Candy Vodka would be an appropriate selection. And then I decided to try mixing a wasabitini with it.
See, the wasabitini recipe I ultimately settled upon had called for four ingredients: sake, vodka, wasabi powder... and sugar syrup. (A splash of lime juice is optional; I generally prefer to omit it.) Since making sugar syrup is generally too much work for me, though, I'd taken to adding a little bit of sugar to the recipe. And as noted, it was okay, but it lacked the greatness of the drink I had been served at Bamboo 52. The subtle sweetness of the cotton candy vodka, however, satisfied the sugar syrup requirement and made my home recipe perfect.
And what is The Scary-Crayon Wasabitini recipe, you ask? It's very simple: 1 part Pinnacle Cotton Candy Vodka to 1 part Gekkeikan Sake (other brands may work just as well; I haven't tried them) to 1 heaping teaspoon of Kaneku Wasabi Powder. Depending upon the size of your glass, you might need more wasabi powder -- the idea is to saturate the drink with the stuff. Too little and you won't get the desired effect, too much... too much and you'll simply end up with excess powder at the bottom of your glass when you finish. And heck, you'll avoid even that if you periodically give the drink a fresh stirring. Really, it's impossible to use too much wasabi powder (within reason; obviously dumping the entire container into your glass would be bad), so I recommend using a bit more than you think you need.
Anyway, once you've poured the ingredients into your glass and stirred, the final step -- and a necessary one -- is to wait at least 15 minutes. (Hence my instruction to use a little more than you think you'll need; if you don't use enough you'll have to add more and wait some more.) For some reason, time is required for the wasabi powder to "activate," and if you drink it too soon you'll get a nasty drink that tastes kinda like canned peas. (Which is not to say that canned peas are necessarily gross; I just don't want my cocktails to taste like them!) Interestingly enough, the drink becomes tastier if you wait even longer, though this could simply be because drinks generally taste better the more intoxicated one becomes, or when they're mingled with food, or for other reasons. That said, I've left unfinished glasses on my dresser upon going to bed and they tasted amazing when I woke up, so I can't really say why the passage of time makes the drink taste better with any certainty. It just does, okay?
Okay, then! To recap:
- Pinnacle Cotton Candy Vodka
- Gekkeikan Sake
- Kaneku Wasabi Powder
- Mix 1 part vodka with 1 part sake in a drinking glass
- Stir 1 heaping teaspoon of wasabi powder into mixture (use more if deemed necessary)
- Wait 15 (or more) minutes
- Serve and enjoy!
And that's all there is to it! Simple, effective, and oh-so delicious. Do let us know what you think if you try it -- even if you're not a fan; after all, individual tastes differ -- and do let us know if you have your own variations on the wasabitini recipe. As long as nobody's getting behind the wheel or suffering from cirrhosis or suffering from an addiction or on medications that definitely should not be mixed with alcohol or a number of other situations in which liquor should definitely not be consumed, it's always fun when drinks are involved! :D-- Wes --